Dateline: LSX - London Stock Exchange, Paternoster Square, City of London, UK, 12:00-19:45 - #OccupyLondon, in common with at least 1,304 cities 82 countries, aims to emulate the courage and tenacity demonstrated by our sisters and brothers in the uprisings of the Arab Spring, Spanish Squares, and Occupy Wall Street (among many others) - by occupying the London Stock Exchange. On the #OccupyTogether Global Day of Mass Direct Actions, when people all around the world are acting United for #globalchange, here are some photos and a report of how the General Assembly of the London Occupation began to assert its will.
At our rendezvous point of St Paul's Cathedral at 12:00 noon, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, several hundred citizens had already assembled. After securing my Brompton loan bike to the railings around the Queen Victoria statute (shortly to become a circular bike park facility), I hefted my street sound system up the steps of the Cathedral's main entrance. Once set up for radio mic operation, I made a few well-received opening remarks about the global nature of todays uprisings, then invited anybody with something to say to step on up to the open mic.
We heard from an elder woman (who's name I missed, sorry to say) bringing solidarity greetings from a nearby Peace Camp, and from stalwart human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, before the crowd exited stage right in the direction of the London Stock Exchange - our primary occupation target, just to the north in Paternoster Square, through the Temple Bar archway.
However, the cops were blocking all access to Paternoster Square at the Temple Bar archway, with a line of pigs on foot backed by a line of pigs on horses, with the London Stock Exchange building behind them. Scouting parties established that cops were blocking ALL access points to Paternoster Square, so we used my street sound system to reconvene the Occupy London General Assembly (from its original incarnation the previous Sunday, during the Block The Bridge mass direct action). Our first decision was to move back into the sunshine in the plaza in front of St Paul's Cathedral, and our second was to remain there for at least two hours, to give our decision-making process time to decide 'What are we going to do now?' (with a nod to the late great Spike Milligan).
My street sound system was not loud enough to reach the thousand or so people now taking part in the General Assembly, so we adopted the tactic of 'the People's Megaphone' - each speaker spoke c. half a sentence through the sound system, then everybody repeated what was said word-for-word, carrying and amplifying the speaker's speech to the farthest edges of the plaza. To help ensure everybody's opinion was heard, we divided into 10-15 strong small groups, and a nominated spokesperson from each group later used the People's Megaphone to share a summary of the opinions expressed in each group. I choose to keep my photovideojournalist hat on, and to continue to gather images of this historic occassion, rather than participate directly in the decision-making process of our people's assembley.
The Metropolitan Police have recently been ravaged by revelations related to their waaaay to cosy, corrupt and profitable relationship with the mainstream media corporations. So this was the second major direct action/democracy 'incident' under the watch of new Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe, who last week promised to "win big days of action".
Shortly before 14:00, cops in body armour, riot helmets and long batons slung from their belts, lined up shoulder to shoulder to kettle our General Assembly (see the yellow lines in A2. OccupyLSX Mass Direct Action Map above). Units from different forces were giving contradictory orders to citizens, with one Met line blocking Ludgate Hill threatening arrest for anybody who breached the riot cop cordon, and a City of London line blocking Dean's Court directing people to an 'exit point' from the kettle on Cannon Street. As usual, with citizens in our people's assembly dressed only in the soft fabrics of street clothes, surrounded by body-armour equipped and infantry-weapon-wielding uniformed thugs, it was blindingly obvious which gang came prepared to commit pre-meditated violent assaults - such is the way generations of peaceful protestors have come face-to-face with the capitalist state's monopoly of violence.
Around 14:30, the mainstream media hacks went into a feeding frenzy as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and three burly minders managed to breach the kettling cordon inbound, and make their way to my sound system on the Cathedral steps. Julian arrived in a long black gown and 'V for Vendetta' Guy Fawkes mask, but was unmaked in crossing the kettling cordon. Since all the common people could see were a circle of the backs of hacks cameras held aloft around the 'Celebrity', mass angry chants of “Media, sit down!” eventually got through some thick skulls, so nearly everybody could at last see what all the ballyhoo was about.
After a heckle of “Can we have our meeting back?”, Julian sensibly kept his remarks short. He mentioned his difficulties in getting in to address our assembly through the cop kettling lines on Ludgate Hill, and his hopes that all the people currently being excluded by the cops would be able to join our assembly too.
“Like all of you, I have had difficulty getting in here today. It started with my signing on for bail in Norfolk - my 323rd day - and ended with getting through the kettling. But there's many people who haven't yet been able to get through these guys over here [pointing to the Met's Ludgate Hill kettling lines] - and I hope they will be able to, and you will NOT accept the kettling! [warm applause and cheers]
I have always wanted to say, “We are all individuals!” [me, an unreconstructed Monty Python fanboy: “I'm not!”; supportive cheers] And all of us are very naughty boys and girls. [laughter]
But to be serious, what is happening here today is a culmination of dreams that many people all over the world have worked towards, from Cairo to London. What we face today is the systematised destruction of the rule of law. People are being laundered through Guantanamo Bay to evade the rule of law, and money is being laundered through the Cayman Islands and London, to evade the rule of law. This movement is NOT about the destruction of law - it is about the CONSTRUCTION of law. [loud cheers]
Thank you! [louder cheers and applause]”
~ Julian Assange, address to the Occupy London General Assembly, Sat 15 Oct 2011
» video, 3:51 - http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=esnypOKpBgs
By mid afternoon, the General Assembly had identified a need for 12 working groups to consider and expedite its desires - everything from food, drink, and sanitation to media, communications, and liason with Cathedral authorities. These working groups met in distinct locations around the plaza and began addressing how the London Occupation Assembly can establish itself and exert its will. One practical and physical outcome showed up with the arrival of a set of Portaloos, for the general relief of the Assembly's bladders and bowels. Until then, there were permanent queues, several metres long, leading into the toilets of local cafes inside the kettled General Assembly zone.
Unfortunately, my attempt at filing scores of photos and an action report from the field via two Linux tablets didn't work out, more due to human error than technical failure. When I left with a fully-battery-depleted sound system at 19:45, the cops were moving in agressively to try to clear we citizens from the steps of the Cathedral (ie: trying to seize the high ground), while a pig repeatedly droned into an amplified police public address system:
“This is not a clearing. Police officers are securing the steps, in order to protect the integrity of the Cathedral.”
Bullshit! Of course, the “integrity of the Cathedral” hadn't been in jeopardy all day, so this was an especially stupid rozzer excuse for needlessly bullying folk to bend to the will of the Officer i/c Public Intimidation.
You are welcome and encouraged to join and/or support the Occupy Together uprisings, and if you're in reach of London, then please do support the London Occupation Assembly at St Paul's Cathedral: take a look at the Occupation's twitterfeed to see what the folks at the Occupation would like you to bring along:
» Twitter - http://twitter.com/occupylsx
...from which comes very positive news indeed from the Cathedral liason group:
“Made it through the first night, in the morning meeting making the occupation comfortable, come and join us! Its official we are occupying St Pauls! The vicar has given his blessing and asked the police to move :D”
So the filth can take their bogus concerns for the “integrity of the Cathedral” and just f*ck right off! The London Occupation needs the hostile interferance of cops like it needs chocolate fireguards. We're here to stay, and to shake up the people-&-planet screwing status quo, which pays the cops to defend it's intolerable business-as-usual with street violence.
UNITED FOR GLOBAL DEMOCRACY
The following text is a call for the Arab nations to join us as brothers and sisters on 15 October 2011. It was initially written for a protest against a G20 meeting, and signed by world reknowned public intellectuals Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva and Noam Chomsky, plus mass direct action organizers.
“On 15 October 2011, united in our diversity, united for global change, we demand global democracy: global governance by the people, for the people. Inspired by our sisters and brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Palestine-Israel, Spain and Greece, we too call for a regime change: a global regime change. In the words of Vandana Shiva, the Indian activist, today we demand replacing the G8 with the whole of humanity - the G 7,000,000,000.
Undemocratic international institutions are our global Mubarak, our global Assad, our global Gaddafi. These include: the IMF, the WTO, global markets, multinational banks, the G8, the G20, the European Central Bank and the UN Security Council. Like Mubarak and Assad, these institutions must not be allowed to run people’s lives without their consent. We are all born equal, rich or poor, woman or man. Every African and Asian is equal to every European and American. Our global institutions must reflect this, or be overturned.
Today, more than ever before, global forces shape people's lives. Our jobs, health, housing, education and pensions are controlled by global banks, markets, tax havens, corporations and financial crises. Our environment is destroyed by pollution in other continents. Our safety is determined by international wars and international trade in arms, drugs and natural resources. We are losing control over our lives. This must stop. This will stop. The citizens of the world must get control over the decisions that influence them in all levels - from global to local. That is global democracy. That is what we demand today.
Like the Mexican Zapatistas, we say "Ya basta! Aquí el pueblo manda y el gobierno obedece”. Enough! Here the people command and global institutions obey! Like the Spanish Tomalaplaza, we say "Democracia Real Ya": True global democracy now!" Today we call the citizens of the world: let us globalise Tahrir Square! Let us globalise Puerta del Sol!”
• Occupy London
» Website - http://occupylondon.org.uk
» Facebook - http://facebook.com/occupylondon
» Twitter - http://twitter.com/occupylsx
• Hashtag - #occupylsx
• Occupy Together
» Website - http://www.occupytogether.org
• Hashtag - #occupytogether
• United for #globalchange
» Website - http://15october.net
• Hashtag - #occupytogether
• Occupy London, Global Day of Action #15Oct - further coverage
» Indymedia London Aggregate Article - http://london.indymedia.org/articles/10420
Up the Revolution,
Tim Dalinian Jones
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